Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On Notice

Who saw this one coming? UConn struggled to sustain offense and was beaten badly in the paint against Wichita State and then they come out and play a perfect game against the second ranked team in the country. They weren’t just sitting around and watching Kemba Walker take the ball to the basket on every play. They rotated the basketball, the big men all had post shots, pounded the glass, and had a ton of second chance points. Everyone played great defense and contributed on the boards. In the end, UConn put everyone on notice that this team is legit and led by an All-American superstar.

One game is an anomaly but the tear that Walker is on and against good teams is a major statement. By adding the outside and mid-ranged shot to his game, it has elevated his game into elite status. His whole arsenal was on display, blazing fast breaks, the 3-ball, fade away jumpers, knocking down shots from the line, and getting others involved which he didn’t do against Wichita State. He played his heart out, but he needs to have others step up to shoulder some of the offense because he looked tired by the end of the game.

Napier had a numerous poor shots, missing a bunch of three pointers before sinking one at the end of the first half. He is a great defender but tends to hand check and gamble. Offensively, he has such a great first step but doesn’t drive to the basket as much as he should, relying heavily on his jumper. Lamb had a tough game. He doesn’t look like a shooting guard and plays more like a small forward. He needs to show that he can create a shot off the dribble. Beverly didn’t do much and when Calhoun shortened his bench Lamb and Beverly minutes were limited.

Oriakhi had his best game of the year, pounding the glass and devouring offensive rebounds. He played with energy and was strong with the ball. The only downside to his game was at the line. He has shown in the past that he can be consistent from the charity stripe and needs to find his confidence again. It was good to see him demand the ball in the post and take some shots, even though they were rushed. This team needs him to take shots at the post to take pressure off the perimeter.

Olander and Okwandu both rode the pine for much of the game when Calhoun shortened his bench. Olander did have a nice post move and a rebound, but struggled defensively and on the boards. Okwandu had a nice block but missed his free throws and had a bad hook shot.

The small forwards had a much better showing in this game. Smith did a better job on the boards and had a monster block. He also showed that he can drain the outside shot with consistency, hitting a three in his last three games. Coombs-McDaniel had a great dunk but needs to do more on the boards. He is also in a dreadful shooting slump and needs to find a way to get to the line to get a feel for the ball going into the basket. Giffey is a great defender. He has good length and quick feet, but it was his rebounding that was most impressive in this game.

While the news will state how great Walker is and he deserves all the accolades, it was solid defense, tough rebounding, and contributions from Oriakhi and the freshmen that allowed UConn to pull off the upset. This was a total team effort. And having Kemba Walker playing at such an incredible level doesn’t hurt either. They put the NCAA on notice because these dogs can bite.

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